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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file, "Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site," and other source materials on the development of 19th-century transportation. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: The lesson could be used in units on early 19th-century industrialization and expansion. Students will strengthen their skills in geography and history through map reading, examination of paintings and photographs, analysis of firsthand accounts, and other activities.
Time period: Early 19th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To explain how the topography of Pennsylvania led to the building of the Allegheny Portage Railroad.
2) To describe some of the innovative technology used in building the Allegheny Portage Railroad and explain how it was later applied to other projects.
3) To compare the technology and level of success of the Pennsylvania Main Line of Public Works (of which the Allegheny Portage Railroad was a part) with other transportation systems of the 1830s and 1840s.
4) To discuss technological change and the affect it has on their lives and the world as a whole.
5) To investigate their own community's transportation history and consider the possible effects of technological advances on the future of transportation.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The map and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-resolution version.
1) one map of the Pennsylvania Main Line of Public Works;
2) three readings about the inclined planes, the development of new types of transportation routes, and reaction to the Allegheny Portage Railroad;
3) one drawing showing the location of 10 inclined planes along the Allegheny Portage Railroad;
4) two photographs showing some of the construction materials used for the railroad;
5) two paintings showing how canal boats were transported on the inclined plane.

Visiting the site
Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site is administered by the National Park Service. It is located 12 miles west of Altoona, Pennsylvania, and can be reached off U.S. Highway 22. The park preserves remnants of the railroad including portions of four inclined planes. For more information, contact the Superintendent, Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, P.O. Box 189, Cresson, PA 16630 or visit the park's Web pages.



Comments or Questions

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